Germany-based global travel retailer Gebr. Heinemann has invested in an early stage called Duffle, an app designed to encourage airport passengers to shop during their often-long downtime at the gate.
Family property Heinemann— one of the largest retailers and distributors in the duty-free market — did not disclose the size of its investment, which was made through its so-called ‘vision center’ Gharage, effectively a business accelerator.
the canvas application It is less than a year old and its developers set themselves the goal of simplifying the shopping experience at the airport. The idea, which is not new but difficult to realize is that duty-free and other brand stores, as well as food and beverage outlets in all terminals of an airport, are jointly available to passengers on a single digital platform.
Anything a traveler chooses, from a cake to a cashmere scarf, is personally delivered to their door by ‘runners’. The app allows users to make purchases at up to three different retailers with delivery available up to 20 minutes before checkout. Duffle also offers gate service at the destination airport to give passengers a little more flexibility.
An end-to-end digital platform
“We have developed the first all-in-one digital platform with fast delivery for the travel retail channel,” said Alexander Trieb, founder and CEO of Berlin-based Duffle. “The app offers a stress-free and frictionless shopping experience.” Other players in this space include omnivealso from Germany, and Drink.
Duffle offers access to a segment of travelers that tends to be difficult to reach for most retailers and therefore has the potential to generate additional revenue. However, how many passengers are willing to participate is another question. “Our primary focus is on young, digitally savvy professionals who haven’t yet been customers at airport stores,” Trieb said.
Heinemann co-CEO Max Heinemann commented: “Digital commerce opens up significant new potential for the travel retail of the future, even outside of our core business. We want to play an active role in shaping this future by focusing on people and their needs. Making your travel time as valuable as possible is part of that and this is exactly the approach Duffle takes.”
On social media, Lennard Niemann, Managing Director and Co-Founder of Gharage, said: “I am very excited that Gharage Ventures has invested in Duffle. The digitization of travel retail is key to addressing new target groups. The app aims to be the most comfortable solution for digital natives, both at airports and during their trip. It is a real opportunity to attract a new segment of travellers”.
Copenhagen Airport Pilot
Starting in October, the Duffle app will be tested at Copenhagen Airport for nine months with a monthly performance review. “A high proportion of our passengers are open to innovation and digitally savvy,” said Peter Krogsgaard, chief commercial officer of Danish hub owner Copenhagen Airports A/S. “Integrating all retailers and brands into one app promises a real improvement in the travel and shopping experience. That is why we are an enthusiastic pilot partner.”
Copenhagen’s retail offering will start off small. Trieb said: “We will have a curated assortment designed for high turnover targeting relevant product categories.” A Duffle Operations team will also be on hand to troubleshoot.